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Fuel reclamation: Striving for greener skies

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren Cobin
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Fuel, the lifeblood of all aircraft—the single factor that undoubtedly controls the capabilities of the 6th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Fuel enables the Air Force to maintain global mobility and provide airlift support worldwide.

“MacDill is a flying gas station,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Johnson, 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron distribution supervisor. “It is our job to make sure good, clean fuel gets to the KC-135s so that they accomplish their mission. Our work enables aircrews to project our environmental footprint on a global scale.”

Airmen are specially trained to handle these volatile liquids in compliance with meticulous safety regulations while maintaining a good perspective of quality control and financial consideration.

“We accurately account for every single gallon, every single quart of fuel that passes through our trucks,” said Johnson. “Any fuel that is reclaimable from the aircraft itself, we salvage.”

Airmen assigned to the 6th LRS fulfill their duties by sustaining a level of excellence within fueling operations and do that while saving the Air Force hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fuel from waste annually.

A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft can carry approximately 202,000 pounds of jet fuel, most of which is used in global refueling missions. With these aircraft capable of taking off with more than $90,000 worth of fuel, the ability to save any amount on flight costs makes a significant difference.

“The main thing is not letting any fuel gets wasted,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Howell, 6th LRS noncommissioned officer in charge. “When we’re working with thousands of pounds of fuel, we’re talking about thousands of dollars.”

Fuels specialists use a variety of tools and equipment to fuel and reclaim these resources from various aircraft engines across the Air Force.

“Just like when you get your oil changed for a car, the old oil is put into drums to be recycled,” said Johnson. “They are able to filter the oil, burn it and turn it into other usable grades of oil.”

The 6th LRS Petroleum Oil and Lubrication flight reclaimed 1,012 gallons of fuel-saving MacDill approximately $3,000 within a three-month span last quarter.

Enabling a rapid and lethal force, MacDill Airmen continue to work diligently to maintain, protect and restore our assets.